As big and influential as Google is, the company still hasn’t figured out how to master the invisible, underappreciated engineering that goes into creating hardware products that work flawlessly. The entirety of its Pixel range of smartphones had been fraught with deal-breaking issues at launch. The problems weren’t restricted to the core Pixel smartphones either, but also extended to allied accessories such as the Pixel Buds.
Not surprisingly, Google is hard at work ironing those issues out of the bug-ridden Pixel Buds. Yesterday, the Silicon Valley behemoth was granted a patent encompassing an improved antenna design for what could be potentially turn out to be the next iteration of the Pixel Buds, or the Pixel Buds 2 if you must. More conservatively speaking, it could also be a major revision aimed at fixing pre-existing issues with the outgoing model. The patent specifically deals with a new wireless antenna for Google’s wireless earphones that is aimed to reduce interference and improve wireless connectivity.
Pixel Buds 2 Patent Aims to Battle Connectivity Issues with New Antenna
The patent describes a redesigned antenna that battles the many engineering challenges faced by wireless earphones, such as small physical volume of the antenna and proximity to human skin as well as touch panels – both of which can potentially cause the numerous connectivity issues plaguing the outgoing Pixel Buds. The document details how the company has optimised the distance of the actual antenna from human tissue, which is a known source of signal attenuation in wearable devices, and how the arc shaped antenna design strikes a balance between actual antenna volume and the space available for rest of the earphone components.
Despite the Pixel Buds being universally panned by critics for being too uncomfortable and unwieldy to wear, in addition to being otherwise lacklustre, the wireless earphones were plagued with several connectivity issues. Despite the lack of widespread acceptance among Android users, Reddit and many other mobile specific forums are nevertheless peppered with the precious few Pixel Buds owners complaining about various connectivity issues.
One such issue was especially egregious since it rendered the earphones nigh unusable with Wear OS-based smartwatches due to some serious pairing related issues. The irony of Wear OS (previously Android Wear) being Google’s own smartwatch-centric operating system notwithstanding, the company categorically told Pixel Buds owners (through a twitter response) that it doesn’t recommended pairing its wireless earphones with smartwatches altogether.
Caveat Emptor: Don’t Get Too Excited About the Pixel Buds 2
While this might as well be considered dark humour for those who have already sunk in $160 on the Pixel Buds, the fresh patent concerning the antenna setup for the Pixel Buds is a good sign that Google’s contingency plan doesn’t stop at addressing its shortcomings with comically bad advice, but also with credible engineering effort directed at fixing the wireless device’s many connectivity issues.
The bottom-line is that if you’re on the verge of making the terrible choice of buying the Pixel buds now, it would be wiser to hold back and wait for the successor or an updated model. It isn’t uncommon for such products to launch mere months after the patent is granted. Even then, going by prior experience, you are better off waiting a bit more for the initial reviews in order to rule out further teething troubles with the new earphones.